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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

358        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

chiefly for the purpose of making the child acquainted with the
inner life of animals and of humanity. * The Games and Songs
are perhaps the finest expression of the Kindergarten spirit. They
deal with all the things little ones are interested in from the
time when they are learning the simplest movements of the
limbs till they are old enough to go shopping with mother. But
they are arranged in somewhat haphazard order in contradiction
of Froebel's own principle of continuity. In this respect the more
formal Gifts, presented to the child in a developing sequence,
are a better illustration of his fundamental ideas. The first is
a woollen ball; the second a sphere> a cube and a cylinder, made
of wood ; the third a wooden cube, subdivided into eight small
cubes ; the fourth, fifth and sixth further divisions of the cube,
involving new differences of form and suitable for older children.
Other gifts, for still later stages, are square and triangular tablets,
sticks and rings. It will be a sufficient indication of the use made
of the Gifts and of their significance for the child, to give sum-
marily Froebel's exposition of the ball-play which begins when
the First Gift is put in the hands of the child at the age of three
months.*

The ball Froebel regards as the most valuable of all the play-
things, and he sees a deep meaning in the fact that the child's
play begins with it. The spherical ball is symbolic of the unity
of all things as well as of the unity of the child's nature. Der
Ball ist ein B(ild des) AIL As he grasps it, it represents to him the
whole world of things other than himself: it is the mediator
between him and the world, and gives him his first vague notion
of the distinction between self and not-self. But though Froebel
dwells with interest on its symbolic value, he is not blind to the more
obvious effects of the ball-play in the development of body and
mind. He points out how the muscles are exercised by grasping
it, and how when it is tied to a string and the child learns to move
it in various ways, senses and limbs are trained, and attention
and self-dependent activity are cultivated. Simple activities like
these, he insists, have in them big possibilities. Suppose the
mother teaches the child to grasp the ball, then pulls it gently
out of his hand, and lets it swing free. This holding and losing,
says Froebel, gives the child his first dim perceptions of being,
hating and becoming, which bring with them in their train the

" Pedagogics <$f the Kindergarten, Jarvis' translation,  p- 32-60*